Jaguar Land Rover gears up to develop autonomous vehicle test site

Prototype self-driving vehicles set to be tested in real-world conditions at the Future Mobility Campus Ireland in County Clare

Jaguar Land Rover has outlined plans to work with a clutch of software, mobility, and telecommunications companies to develop a ‘smart city hub’ in Ireland where autonomous electric vehicles will be trialled in real world conditions.

The test site in County Clare is set to monitor how a number of self-driving vehicles, including the Jagaur I-PACE, fare as they navigate a variety of road environments and traffic scenarios, the carmaker said.

Cisco, Red Hat, Renovo, Valeo, and Mergon are also supporting the Future Campus Mobility Ireland (FCMI) project, which will involve retrofitting 12 kilometres of roads with sensors and high-accuracy location systems, according to Jaguar Land Rover.

It explained the site will include a dedicated on-site control centre, electric vehicle charge points, autonomous parking, ‘smart’ junctions, and will link to a 450 kilometre stretch of highway and Shannon Airport’s air traffic corridor.

“The smart city zone provides a first-class facility for global companies to work together and develop world-leading technology, from autonomous vehicles to connected infrastructure,” said Russell Vickers, chief executive of FCMI. “The testbed provides an opportunity to test in the real world and help answer some of the questions posed by the future of mobility in a collaborative and efficient way.”

Advocates of self-driving vehicles contend that the technology will make roads safer, less congested and less polluted given that automated vehicles (AVs) are programmed to take the most efficient routes and are less susceptible to human error and driving accidents. Sceptics point out that the technology is some way off commercialisation and that an increase in self-driving cars could in fact increase emissions by encouraging a boom in ride sharing at the expense of public transport and active travel.

But Jaguar said today that autonomous, connected, electrified, and shared vehicles were a “key part” of the company’s commitment to making societies “safer and healthier”.

“This partnership with FMCI provides us with a real-world facility to trial our emerging autonomous, connected, electrified and shared technology in a strategic location,” said Jaguar Land Rover general manager for Shannon Ireland John Cormican, referring to the test-site’s proximity to the automaker’s software engineering centre. “Collaborating with top-tier software companies will allow us to develop our future systems more efficiently.”

Findings from the living laboratory in Count Clare will help advance the company’s research into autonomous, connected, electrified, and shared vehicles, Jaguar Land Rover said.

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